Report: SEO vital in age of voice search

80 per cent of answers delivered by Google’s voice assistant came from the top three results in existing search engine results pages

A fresh study has shown the most essential ranking factors behind voice searches are the same as the familiar SEO factors already in existence.

Voice assistants are expected to dominate online searches moving forward. In fact, according to digital marketing analytics vendor, SEMrush, two in five adults in the US now use voice search at least once per day. By 2020, it is estimated half of all searches will have shifted from the keyboard to the microphone. 

Google recently revealed 20 per cent of searches through the Android Google App are now voice searches, and the new version of Google Assistant will be 10 times faster than the current model. Combined with the fact voice search recognition is now at a point of 95 per cent accuracy, it only makes sense consumers will move further towards the technology, including Australia. 

SEMrush undertook a study to understand the parameters Google Assistant uses to select answers to voice search queries, and to compare and understand differences in answers obtained from different devices. It found 80 per cent of answers delivered by Google’s voice assistant came from the top three results in existing search engine results pages. 

The analysis studied more than 50,000 queries and also found 70 per cent of answers are likely to be returned for a voice query if it’s contained in a search engine results pages (SERP) feature, with 60 per cent of those returning a featured snippet result. 

In addition to correlating voice results with SERP, the study found a common link between answer length, backlinks anchors and page speed. 

“As marketers consider how to make the most of the increase in voice searches, the data is important for SEOs to understand as it suggests the key to performance is high SERP placement, site speed, content readability, and high-quality backlinks,” head of global marketing for SEMrush, Olga Andrienko, said. ”The good news for digital marketers is SEOs are already optimising for those factors.” 

The analysis also found the Android device delivered 93 per cent of answers from the first page of organic results, which was lower than Google Home and its Mini counterpart. The latter both delivered 98 per cent of answers from the first page (with over 40 per cent being position one in Google). 

When analysing backlinks, page score and trust score were slightly higher for answers’ URLs regardless of the device. Backlink anchors and keywords within a title matching the voice search query are present in over half of answer URLs for Google Home and Home Mini. 

SEMrush also found text length of the answers returned was nearly the same for every device, around 41 words on average; text complexity needs to be simple and understandable for the average reader; page speed is very important for all devices, and for a majority of questions, the answer chosen by Google loads faster than the average page speed for all other results in the same SERP. 

Well-linked pages (internally and externally) are favoured within Google Home and Home Mini searches; over a third of the answers do not use schema, with article and organisation being the most popular within low percentages. 

In non-answers, the use of schema is more prominent, but still no single type dominates. Finally, HTTPS and URL depth seem to be irrelevant for Google Assistant's selection. 

As CMO reported, while consumer adoption of voice technology in Australia is booming, brands are lagging behind incorporating voice into their marketing strategies, seeing it as more of a novelty, or as a gateway to sales, than as a viable branding tool.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

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